Lake San Sebastiano Isili - What to Do I Olianas
Art and culture
The Is Paras Nuraghe
One of Sardinia’s most fascinating Nuragic sites rises in the region of Isili, less than 10 km (approximately 6.2 miles) from Tenuta Olianas. Its name is “Is Paras”, it dates back to the Bronze Age and consists of a well-preserved central cone-shaped tower, surrounded by concentric walls and a series of circular or elliptical rooms.
Today, Is Paras is one of the most interesting tholoi (circular buildings with vaulted roofs) in the Nuragic civilization and in the Mediterranean area. It’s a veritable marvel, second only to the tomb of Agamemnon, the Treasury of Atreus discovered by archeologist Heinrich Schliemann.
Is Paras lies among the Sarcidano hills, a wonderful region redolent of myrtle and cistus where beautiful scenery blends with Sardinia’s traditional heritage and art.
This Nuragic cluster was built on top of a limestone hill on the outskirts of Isili, in a commanding and simultaneously defensive position. Shepherding and farming, deeply rooted in these lands, have developed and grown hand in hand with the progress of the nearby town and of our lovely island.
The majestic prehistoric fortress and surrounding village are what make this Nuraghe unique. Nominated for UNESCO recognition, the site arguably stands as Nuragic Sardinia’s most elegant example. Also, it dates back to 1600 B.C. a very important time in the history of the Mediterranean: this was when seafaring and trade created the groundwork for the flourishing and diffusion of a common, albeit spoken-only, language.
Immersing oneself in this setting means experiencing, and breathing, the history of the second millennium B.C.
The 'father' of Nuragic archaeology, Giovanni Lilliu, was the one who defined Is Paras as the largest and most harmonious among Sardinia’s tholoi, praising the elegance and uniqueness of the main towers’ “fake-dome” vault.
The Sardinian term Is Paras translates as “the friars” and refers to the Scolopian friars who owned the land it stands on since the 17th century and built a convent here. The building is made of white and brown limestone blocks. Laid horizontally, these create the spectacular monument’s 4 towers and curtain walls. The main central tower consists of two superimposed floors - the bottom one open to visitors - is 13 meters high and ranks as the tallest tower in all of Sardinia.
If one stops to consider when it was built, 13 meters is a colossal size: in fact, only Agamemnon’s Tomb is taller than Is Paras.
The earliest history of Is Paras bears deep roots, and can be traced back to three distinct historical periods:
- the single-tower Nuraghe dates back to the Middle Bronze Age.
- a tower and corridor date back to the Recent Bronze Age.
- the other two towers and the antemural surroundings that enclosed and protected the village date back to the Final Bronze Age.
Digs carried out so far reveal evidence of crafts, farming, and weaving inside the Nuragic cluster, and a sacred well and corridor tombs have been uncovered nearby as well. The site was probably used as a local administrative and religious center during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Huts and pottery remnants have also been found, allowing us to trace life in the area back to the Roman and Byzantine eras.
There is still much to discover about Is Paras: in fact, excavations are still underway, and they’re bound to bring to light new and fascinating discoveries about the history of the Sardinian Nuragic civilization.
By car: take SS128. Estimated travel time; 65 minutes.
By bus: take bus n. 433 at the bus stop in piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Cagliari. The bus route is Cagliari-Laconi-Nuoro. Estimated travel time: 105 minutes.
By train: take the Monserrato-Isili train at the Monserrato San Gottardo train station. Estimated travel time: 110 minutes.
By car: take SP9.
Estimated travel time: 13 minutes.
April to November: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10 AM to 1 PM and from 3 PM to 1 hour before sunset.
November to March: Visits are allowed by reservation only: call the information office to reserve.
- Standard: €3 per person
- Reduced: €2 per person (children between 6 and 17, adults over 65, groups of more than 20 people)
- Access is free of charge for infants, children up to 6 years old, and people with impairments and their escorts
Full combined tickets also include a guided tour (duration: approximately 1 hour for each site) to the Museum of Copper and Textile Art:
Regular: €6 per person
Reduced: €4.5 per person
The town of Isili
The Nuragic civilization's footsteps are not the only attraction in this area. The township of Isili rises in the Sarcidano region, and boasts a gentle landscape made of wide, airy valleys.
A thriving administrative and cultural hub ever since the early 19th century, Isili has always been famous for its two customary crafts: weaving and copper work. Over the centuries, the streets and alleys of this town have seen the mysterious world of coppersmiths mesh with the secret jargon of the weavers.
Walking through the streets of this Sardinian village, one can still hear murmured voices and background tunes that evoke a magical, evocative atmosphere. While here you can admire key Isili craftsmen, such as wood carvers and filigree artisans, at work.
Visitors feel transported into a distant world, while the people of Isili know how important it is to keep one’s memory and identity intact. Doing so requires supporting the activities that are still alive in this corner of Sardinia, and allowing art to flourish by combining tradition and modernity.
The surroundings of Isili offer a variety of trails and paths ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and biking. It’s a perfect destination for a relaxing, wholesome vacation, away from city life, in a timeless rural setting in the Sarcidano countryside, which, besides Is Paras, boasts a variety of other Nuragic sites, pre-Nuragic remnants, and Roman settlements.
This area of Sardinia is also ideal for those who love sports and like to test their skills: the rock walls are beloved by free-climbing enthusiasts. In fact, the World Wellness Weekend, an important worldwide event focused on wellness tourism that includes Sardinia among its main destinations, can’t help but include this corner of our island, with its nature and unique villages.
The hiking routes near Isili also lead to Lake "San Sebastiano," an amazingly beautiful place that stems from a perfect blend of nature and the work of mankind.